Our Journey to Financial Independence

Toughen Up Cupcake

It was the summer of 2018 and I had just graduated from college, moved away from my family, friends, and my country to follow the American Dream. Even though, everything was going well at the 9-5, I quickly realized I had been thrown into adulthood with zero knowledge on retirement savings, health insurance, etc. My life did not revolve around my GPA any more. I needed a crash course on personal finance. As a newly inducted adult, it made sense to learn about money. Naturally, and like a true millennial, I started listening to podcasts. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending and it is just the beginning of how we embarked on our Journey to Financial Independence.

FIRE: Financial Independence, Retire Early

I started listening to personal finance podcasts and learned that I had already made mistakes within the previous 6 months. In my infinite wisdom, I gifted myself with a new white shiny car. Buying a used car was the financially prudent thing to do, and I knew it. But no. I bought a brand new mid SUV of the year in the highest tier available. I’d spent the last 6 years earning my Engineering degree. As far as I was concerned, I was making the right choice, since I initially wanted a Lexus, and after visiting a dealership I quickly got down from that financial train-wreck and went with a Mazda instead.

What I eventually came to learn was that I’d gifted myself a monthly bill of over $500 a month, by owning an asset that started depreciating the minute I drove it out of the dealership. Not my brightest moment but I got emotionally past my first and biggest financial mistake (so far…) pretty quickly because even though it was going to delay us by a bit we had found the magical world of Financial Independence.

Financial Independence In A Nutshell

I was listening to a personal finance podcast (How To Money) in an effort to not waste my commute. For this one episode, they brought one of the original co-hosts of the ChooseFI podcast. To say that I was excited about Financial Independence falls short in every imaginable way. Financial Independence usually comes accompanied by two other words: Retire, Early. Typically referred to as the FIRE movement, it was all new and music to my ears. What was this FIRE movement? Why had I never heard about it? Was it a Ponzi scheme perhaps? It did sound too good to be true which is the first thing to note about Ponzi schemes as I had learned recently. Thankfully, I kept listening.

Being financially independent means that you have saved enough money to cover your expenses without a paycheck. To achieve Financial Independence we had to:

  1. Cut our expenses
  2. Save the difference (usually shooting for a 50% or above savings rate of our take-home pay) and invest it (preferably in low index mutual funds)
  3. Repeat until accumulating 25X of our annual expenses
  4. Retire Early or keep working if that is what YOU want!

I knew right away this was what I was looking for. Now I had a goal, a reason to wake up and go to work every day…I decided to buy my freedom. I had to do bring Mr. DMD on board for the journey and after a little bit of convincing and him giving me the “are you sure this is not insane” look for the nth-time he came around. We enjoy travel…like a lot. The Travel Hacking side of FI helped me to bring him to the dark side (hehe). And just like that, we had aligned to embark on this journey to financial independence.

Okay, Now What?

Well, the first question to answer was: How much money are we spending? And, on what? We started tracking our expenses and optimizing them one by one. It was exhilarating to be working on something together. It felt like we had found this secret and it was fun to scheme (in a good way) and plan how to save more and spend less. We managed to optimize a couple of them including our Cell-Phone, Cable, and Internet bills. And that was just the beginning. There was much more to learn and optimize!

I found blogs, articles, books, and podcasts all about Financial Independence and life optimization strategies. We could now design the future that we wanted to live in. A future where we don’t have to scrap pennies when we want to go visit our families, but we can Travel Hack instead. A future where our investments will work for us while we drink Piña Coladas in Jamaica.

This Is Not A Drill!

It was all incredible and I wanted to learn and share all of it with my family and friends, which led to me creating Dear Money Diary. I want to document and share our progress towards the future we are creating for ourselves. Inspired by the title of an episode of the ChooseFi podcast, I’ve been telling Mr. DMD “This is not a drill” a lot and I mean it. This is not a drill! The years of being sheltered and guided through life are over. It is our turn to decide what we want for our lives and I’ll be damned if I waste 40 years of my life working with nothing to show for it.

I knew there was something better out there, and I found it. The path to Financial Independence is a hell of a ride full of ups and downs. We’ll need to stick to JL Collins advice which he repeatedly emphasized in his Part I-Stock Series article: “Toughen Up Cupcake”. And toughen up we will.

How did you discover Financial Independence? Is this the first time you’re hearing about Financial Independence? What is the future you are working towards? Let us know in the comment section below!

*The content posted on this website does not constitute professional financial advice. Please consult a certified financial planner or investment advisor for professional financial advice*

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